Pokemon Go, Semantic Overlay of Delight

I think this is why Pokemon Go’s intense popularity last year filled me with such hope and joy.

Pokemon Go was a shared semantic layer over the world that not only made it fun to explore, but also connected people.

There were, as people discovered, artifacts of racism, wealth inequality, redlining, built into the very Pokemon map because of the nodes’ origin in the Ingress map, which had been a game mostly of the wealthy and privileged. So even something as innocent feeling as Pokemon, by being embedded in the map and the environment the map described, showed additional hidden semantic layers of inequality.

Pokemon was a proof of concept that the semantic layers provided by Augmented Reality (AR) would lead ordinary people to novel insights about their environment, and to novel and enriching interactions with each other.

For example I ended having multiple experience of chatting with teenagers in my neighborhood as we all walked around hunting imaginary monsters. Normally we would have nothing in common obvious enough to talk about.  Future AR semantic overlays of the built environment need not be games. Games are a pretty fun way to do it, though.

My Series Of Grimaces Is My Passport, Authorize Me

“When Apple announced the new iPhone can use facial recognition technology to unlock the device, the response may not have been what Apple had hoped for.”

Apple Gets Mixed Reactions To New iPhone’s Facial Recognition Technology

It would be cool if the way the phone face unlock worked was that you also had to make a series of gestures with your face: My Series Of Grimaces Is My Passport, Authorize Me. Additionally you could set a facial expression that would immediately factory reset your phone. Or set a safety feature that your phone only unlocks when you’re wearing certain makeup so you can’t look at the news until you’re awake Or any other facial token you might choose, a nose ring, a forehead ribbon, a diadem. Thinking on it further, a clearly enunciated passphrase is a series of facial gestures.

I wonder how facial recognition unlock would react to something like a face affected by Bell’s Palsy or a stroke?

Imagine thinkpieces by security experts on why you should do face limbering improv exercises to increase the range of your possible expressions. “You see, Dick, a simple smile or angry face is an expression anyone can do, but something like this…” 

Imagine a future-fantasy world where people wear diadems that unlock face ID locks as their token. Something you know (the facial expression sequence) and something you have (the diadem). I can see this as an anime:

Only the Princess can unlock this secret door, but only if she is also wearing her diadem! (It looks like magic but actually is a form of face ID). The diadem has been stolen by Evil Space Pirates. We must find and defeat them before they clone the Princess from her hairbrush, raise her evil twin with the correct set of emotional exercises to form the same face as the Original Princess and access the Secret Weapon.

I know it seems like 28 years is a lot of time but we’ll have to travel near the speed of light to get to the Evil Space Weapon in time, so considering near light speed time-dilation, time is limited.

Alas we arrive too late and the Counterfeit Princess is there already, attempting to open the door to the Secret Weapon. But what? It’s not working! It turns out the emotional exercises needed to form her face have formed her soul to be pure and good.

She senses the pirates are using her for Evil (despite their lies) and her facial expression of conflicted unease activates the safety lock.

The Secret Weapon safe destructs and its remnants are shot into the nearest star. Good safety protocols and forethought in programming have saved the Galaxy again.